Syrian forces flooded the city of Daraa yesterday after overnight clashes there and pursued “clean-up” operations in Homs, where the Red Cross was struggling to gain access to a former rebel bastion.
China said it would send an envoy to Syria to try to halt a conflict that has divided Beijing from Western and Arab powers demanding stronger action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hundreds of troops and security men fanned out in Daraa, where the anti-Assad revolt flared nearly a year ago, on a scale not seen for months, a resident of the southern city said.
The clampdown followed attacks on security checkpoints in the city center that were also the most extensive for months. At least one person was killed, the Daraa resident said.
Rebels have multiplied hit-and-run assaults across Syria in the past few days to signal their defiance after the military overran the Baba Amr district of Homs.
Syrian armored forces recaptured Baba Amr from its lightly armed defenders on Thursday after an almost month-long siege in which shelling reduced much of the district to rubble.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were still seeking approval from Syrian authorities to enter Baba Amr to help civilians there.
The two agencies provided aid and medical care on Sunday to Baba Amr residents who had fled to the nearby village of Abel, ICRC spokesperson Saleh Dabbakeh said in Damascus.
Opposition activists have said that Syrian forces are carrying out bloody reprisals in Baba Amr, but their reports are hard to verify given Syria’s severe curbs on independent media.